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Greg Veis, YouTube Hunter: Slam Dunks, Take 2!

It's Wednesday morning, two and a half days since I returned from NBA All Star Weekend in Vegas, and I've still got a plaster-cast smile on my face. This is attributable to many things: my miraculous blackjack comeback against a 70 year-old dealer named Dawn, who consistently referred to herself as The Velvet Assassin; the fine dining; the substance abuse; the fact that I saw Kevin Garnett rock some low-level breakdance moves at a club in the Venetian; the temperatures that tripled those on the east coast; and closest to our purposes, that this year's Slam Dunk contest was the most
entertaining and collegial in years.

Like most kids born after Dr. J, despite some periods of being frustrated with the ease of the dunk (compared, say, to the supreme classiness of the finger roll), I've possessed a lifelong fascination with the maneuver. Saturday afternoons, when not spent practicing medical procedures on snails, were wasted away with dunk contests on the six-foot hoop in the backyard. (The YouTube Hunter, for the record, has never been blessed with height, jumping ability, or athletic talent.) My Jordan taking off from the free throw line poster
hung across the room from my Dominique windmill one. And on and on and on. I won't bore you with further personal details, but suffice it to say that in my book, dunks = nice.

So let's kick off the Tubes with a highlight reel of this year's contest, which while unable to boast any dunks that we'll be talking about for years, was damn high entertainment:

Now, here's NBA TV's list of the Top 10 best Slam Dunk Contest dunks. It's not a bad list, although I'd futz with their rankings, which seem tainted by the recency effect. Also, be ready to hear one of the best announcer calls in memory: "We need to get him
a get well card because he's sick right now."

Lastly, I'll leave you with four of my favorite dunks. Unfortunately, three of them were executed by UNC Tar Heels, and one of them is against Duke, but there¹s no use in letting bias get in the way of beauty.

I love the Vince Carter over the French guy dunk. That gets the
jingoism going every time. Anyway, feel free to leave your favorite dunks in
the comments section. Holla!

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Fox Sports, YouTube
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Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
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Fox Sports, YouTube

Opinions vary widely about the continued existence of The Simpsons, which just began its 29th season. Some believe the show ran out of steam decades ago, while others see no reason why the satirical animated comedy can’t run forever.

Both sides will no doubt have something to say about the episode airing Sunday, October 22, which reframes the premise of the show’s classic “Homer at the Bat” installment from 1992 as a Ken Burns-style mockumentary titled Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson.

As Mashable reports, “Homer at the Bat” saw Montgomery Burns launch his own baseball team and populate it with real major league players like Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Jose Canseco to dominate the competition. In the one-hour special, the players will discuss their (fictional) participation, along with interviews featuring Homer and other members of the animated cast.

It’s not clear how much of the special will break the fourth wall and go into the actual making of the episode, a backstory that involves guest star Ken Griffey Jr. getting increasingly frustrated recording his lines and Canseco’s wife objecting to a scene in which her husband's animated counterpart wakes up in bed with lecherous schoolteacher Edna Krabappel.

Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) directed the special, which is slated to air on Fox at either 3 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST depending on NFL schedules in local markets. There will also be a new episode of The Simpsons—an annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror" installment—airing in its regular 8 p.m. time slot.

[h/t Mashable]

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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